Colombia charges: Chávez funds FARC

As Venezuela and Ecuador order troops to their borders with Colombia, the Colombian National Police chief Gen. Oscar Naranjo announced that documents recovered from the computer of slain guerilla leader Raul Reyes reveal financial ties between Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and the FARC—including a Feb. 14 message that mentions US$300 million in Venezuelan support for the rebel organization.

Gen. Naranjo, didn’t actually say if there was any indication in the Feb. 14 message that Venezuela actually delivered this money to the FARC, Associated Press notes. But he claimed another document found in the laptop suggested financial ties between Chávez and the FARC dating back to 1992. At the time, Chávez was imprisoned in Venezuela for leading a coup attempt. Naranjo told a press conference: “A note recovered from Raul Reyes speaks of how grateful Chávez was for the 100 million pesos [about US$150,000 at the time] that the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, delivered to Chávez when he was in prison.”

Venezuelan Vice President Ramon Carrizalez dismissed the charges, saying: “We are accustomed to the lies of the Colombian government. Whatever they say has no importance. They can invent anything now to try to get out of that violation of Ecuadorean territory that they committed.” (AP, IHT, March 3)

Ecuador has broken diplomatic relations with Colombia, with President Rafael Correa charging that Colombia’s incursion had destroyed progress towards securing the liberation of several FARC hostages—including former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt. Admitting that his government has had contacts with the FARC “for humanitarian motives,” Correa said in a televised address: “I regret to inform you that the conversations [with the FARC] were very advanced to liberate in Ecuador 12 hostages, among them Ingrid Betancourt. Everything was frustrated by [the Colombian government’s] warlike and authoritarian hand. We cannot dismiss that this was one of the motivations of the attack incursion on the part of the enemies of peace.”

Defending his decision to break diplomatic ties with Bogotá, Correa said “it is not possible to maintain relations with a government that so brutally tramples decency, truth and the sovereignty of friendly states.” (Colpress via La Patria, Caldas, Colombia, March 3)

See our last posts on the Colombia/Ecuador crisis and Venezuela.